Bears were officially playing in black on Friday night but if you take a close look at their European shirt you will see it covered in colourful doodles featuring everything from hot air balloons to the Clifton Suspension Bridge.
It will be the last time it is worn on the field, however, with Bristol crashing out of the Challenge Cup 26-33 to Clermont Auvergne.
Following ‘Thirsty Thursday’ – which saw Bears announce that nine of its first team had committed their futures to the club, as well as the signings of Gabriel Oghre and Sam Wolstenholme – this was more like ‘Forgettable Friday’.
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Harry Randall and Semi Radradra were Bristol’s try scorers in the first 40 minutes, which ended with Clermont scoring with the last play of the half after Radradra had come off injured.
Following a superb break by James Williams, the Fijian flyer appeared to pull a muscle as he ran for the line, just making it over the whitewash seconds after holding his leg, noticeably slowing down but still beating the French defenders in hot pursuit.
The second half was a nervy affair, with an AJ Macginty penalty cutting Clermont’s lead to two points, but then the visitors extended their lead.
An intriguing subplot was a dive by a Clermont player much more suited to a football match than a game of rugby as he was ‘tripped’ by Siva Naulago while chasing a grubber kick.
The replay was shown via multiple angles on the big screen with boos ringing around Ashton Gate as the Frenchman tumbled on his own accord.
Naulago also featured in the other major event of the half as he chose not to pick up or touch a ball that had been kicked into Bristol’s in-goal area, desperately willing the ball to leave the pitch but inadvertently allowing Damian Penaud to sprint in and touch down.
“Nonchalance” was how Clermont’s Twitter account described Naulago’s aberration; which does not need much of a translation.
So it is the yellow army of Clermont who progress to the Challenge Cup quarter-finals, with Pat Lam’s men in black the architects of their own Brexit.
*Steven Luatua, Harry Thacker, Max Lahiff, Yann Thomas, Jake Woolmore, Jake Heenan, Piers O’Conor, Ed Holmes and Jay Tyack have all signed extended deals at Ashton Gate.
Main photo: JMP
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